Sectoral groups join peace caravan, sign manifesto at Hacienda Luisita » Manila Bulletin News

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by Franco Regala

Tarlac City, Tarlac — Multi-sectoral groups representing farmers, students, women ,and 11 barangays inside the Hacienda Luisita (HL) signed a manifesto during a peace caravan on Saturday to call for unity and lasting peace, and end the decades-long conflict in the disputed farmland.

Around 1,500 people banded together under the theme “Kapayapaan, Kaularan, Pagkakaisa, at Trabaho (Peace, Prosperity and Livelihood)” as early as 7 a.m. from Calumpang intersection here to the Barangay Central covered court inside Hacienda Luisita.

WALK FOR PEACE — Multi-sectoral groups composed of students, farmers, women, and the local government officials march for peace during the Hacienda Luisita Peace Caravan in Barangay Central, Tarlac City last Saturday. (Franco G. Regala | Manila Bulletin)

The caravan arrived and converged with administrators and employees of HL; local officials including Tarlac City Vice Mayor Genaro Mendoza; and the local police.

A simple program was held and a manifesto was forged to signify their commitment to achieve peace and harmony in the community.

“Kaming mamamayan ng Hacienda Luisita ay nagkakaisa tungo sa kapayapaan, kaunlaran at trabaho; sinusuportahan namin ang programa laban sa paglaganap ng illegal na droga (We the residents of Hacienda Luisita are united in peace, development, and work; we support the program against the spread of illegal drugs),” their manifesto read.

Among those who signed the covenant for peace were Edgar Sumat, president of the Association of Barangay Captains (ABC); Rev. Fr. Lito Santos, parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes Church; Barangay Captain Real Gatus of Barangay Mapalacsiao; and Ernesto Navaro, a Hacienda Luisita farmer.

“Improved livelihood opportunities and prosperity can only happen when there is peace and order within the community. This unity walk seeks to deliver a clear message to everyone that the people here just want to work towards progress, without any disruptions or commotions,” Sumat said.

According to Sumat, the signatories committed to ensure that after the manifesto signing businesses would thrive in the more than 6,000 hectare estate.

Rev. Fr. Santos expressed hope that the peace march will be worthwhile and would eventually lead to lasting peace and more job opportunities for the residents.

“Ito po ang dahilan din kung bakit tayo sumali sa peace caravan na ito upang ipakita na hindi tayo pabor sa violent protests and demonstrations,” said Ernesto Navaro, a farmer working at the Hacienda Luisita for more than a decade. (With a report from Mar T. Supnad)

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